2.8. Flexible Support for as Long as is Required
Housing First emphasises the right to housing in another sense, which is remaining in contact with a person using Housing First when they are evicted. If a Housing First service user is evicted, because of rent arrears, nuisance that causes disruption to neighbours or causing damage, Housing First remains in contact with that person and seeks to house them again. Equally, if someone using Housing First finds themselves unable to cope with living in their own home and abandons it, Housing First continues to work with them.
If someone loses their home, they are not left to cope on their own by a Housing First service. Housing First services remain engaged and continue to try to ensure the person’s right to housing.
Housing First offers support designed to meet individual needs. The focus on choice and control, person-centred planning, a recovery orientation and harm reduction all underpin this fundamental characteristic of a Housing First service. Support is adaptable, flexible and can also be imaginative, responding to each unique set of needs as required, at least within the (financial) resources a Housing First service has access to. Support intensity can rise and fall with individual need, so that Housing First can respond positively when someone needs more, or less, help on a day-to-day basis.
As mentioned above, support follows the individual, rather than being attached to a place. This allows Housing First to maintain contact if someone loses their existing housing, or has, for example, to enter hospital or prison on a short-term basis.
The final, crucial, element of flexible service delivery is providing support for as long as necessary. For people using Housing First, living in their own home may not be their normal experience. They may have spent years, in some cases decades, in homelessness services, hostels and emergency shelters, squatting or living on the street. The support needed for adjustment to living independently may need to extend beyond a few months, and the process of ensuring that the health, well-being and social integration of a Housing First service user are as positive as possible may also take some time.
This does not mean support needs will be constantly high. Needs do change over time. Nor does support necessarily need to be permanent, as Housing First service users can reach a point where they no longer need Housing First and can either manage with lower intensity support or can live entirely independently.
Alongside the core principles, each Housing First service has a set of shared objectives, which can be summarised as:
- Delivering housing sustainment.
- Promoting health and well-being.
- Promoting social integration, including: Community integration
- Enhancing social support
- Access to meaningful and productive activity